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How to watch House of the Dragon on HBO Max right now — release time and episode schedule

Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen, in armor, in House of the Dragon
(Image credit: Ollie Upton / HBO)

The Iron Throne is back, as you can watch House of the Dragon online right now. Yes, the Game of Thrones prequel just soared onto HBO Max, and it hopefully will erase that bitter aftertaste of the final Game of Thrones season by taking audiences back in time to the earlier days of Daenerys' house. 

House of the Dragon release date and time

House of the Dragon episode 1 premiered today (Sunday, August 21) on HBO and HBO Max (opens in new tab). It arrived just before 9 p.m. ET, and we just hit play on it. Expect audience demand to test HBO Max's servers limits (so far, so good).

The meta-story is just as interesting, as this series is HBO's bid to keep the proverbial Iron Throne of fantasy TV (Prime Video looks to take over with The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power).

The series, though, is about the age-old topic that Game of Thrones has always been focused on: a fight for power. Here, we see the path of the first queen of House Targaryen. Yes, long before Daenerys had one of the worst character arcs to end a series, there was princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy). Both of pure Valyrian blood and a dragonrider, Rhaenyra has one big obstacle in her path to power: no woman has held the iron throne before her.

Her biggest threat may be Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith), the younger brother of King Viserys. Seen by many — including himself — as heir to the throne, Daemon is also a dragonrider. But he's seemingly not the one who King Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine) has chosen.

Just one thing to know if you're watching on HBO Max, as opposed to the HBO cable channel: we're not exactly sure about how the service will handle the demand. This is the highest profile show since Euphoria for HBO Max, so you may need to try, try again if it becomes crashy.

Before you start watching the series, you can read about the 7 things you should know about House of The Dragon

The reviews are in for the House of the Dragon and it has got a 88% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Here is everything you need to watch House of the Dragon. Plus, check out the trailers and more details below.

How to watch House of the Dragon in the U.S.

In the U.S., House of the Dragon premiered on HBO and HBO Max this Sunday (August 21), with episode 1 arriving at 9 p.m. ET.

This season consists of 10 episodes, coming at a pace of one per week.

If you haven't signed up for HBO Max, what are you waiting for? It's our top pick among the best streaming services.

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HBO Max (opens in new tab) offers an exceptional library, including all of HBO's prestige series, like Succession, Game of Thrones, The Sopranos and The Wire. Plus, the service has its own originals like Hacks and The Flight Attendant. HBO Max costs $15 per month (or $10 for the ad-supported tier).

How to watch House of the Dragon in Canada

While Canadians don't have access to HBO or HBO Max, they're probably going to be able to watch House of the Dragon regardless. Crave (opens in new tab), the usual source for HBO shows in Canada, has the rights.

The streaming service has a seven-day free trial (opens in new tab). After that, the Movies + HBO package costs $19.98 CAD per month. 

If you're an American traveling abroad and want to access all your paid services, you'll need to look into the best VPN services, such as Express VPN.

How to watch House of the Dragon online in the UK

Since Brits also don't get HBO or HBO Max, they will watch House of the Dragon slightly later than the rest of us. House of the Dragon debuts in the U.K. on Sky Atlantic and NOW on August 22. 

Sky TV packages (opens in new tab) start at just £25 per month. 

Every episode will debut the day after its U.S. airing.

How to watch House of the Dragon online in Australia

Aussies will stream House of the Dragon on Binge (opens in new tab). Episodes will likely drop the day after the U.S. airing. And speaking of:

House of the Dragon episode schedule

  • House of the Dragon episode 1: August 21 @ 9 p.m. ET
  • House of the Dragon episode 2: August 28 @ 9 p.m. ET
  • House of the Dragon episode 3: Sept. 4 @ 9 p.m. ET
  • House of the Dragon episode 4: Sept. 11 @ 9 p.m. ET
  • House of the Dragon episode 5: Sept. 18 @ 9 p.m. ET
  • House of the Dragon episode 6: Sept. 25 @ 9 p.m. ET
  • House of the Dragon episode 7: Oct. 2 @ 9 p.m. ET
  • House of the Dragon episode 8: Oct. 9 @ 9 p.m. ET
  • House of the Dragon episode 9: Oct. 16 @ 9 p.m. ET
  • House of the Dragon episode 10: Oct. 23 @ 9 p.m. ET

House of the Dragon trailers

The first House of the Dragon trailer begins with an argument over what else: succession. No, they're not antsy for Succession season 4: King Viserys of House Targaryen (Paddy Considine) is concerned with who will take his throne. The name of Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (played by Milly Alcock for the younger years and Emma D’Arcy in older years) is suggested, as she's the first-born in line. That doesn't sound right to some, as a woman has never held The Iron Throne at this point.

In the second teaser trailer for The House of The Dragon, we met many a house-leaders (and some dragons), as King Viserys (Paddy Considine) and Princess Rhaenyra (Emma D'Arcy) got pledges of loyalty. We're curious how strong those vows actually are.

In HBO Max's first teaser trailer for House of the Dragon we got our first proper look at what Westeros was like 200 years before Game of Thrones.

It looks very much like the Westeros we knew, albeit rather dark and full of the platinum-hair that was a notable trait among the Targaryens and other noble Valyrian families. 

The Iron Throne has also had a makeover, looking a lot more monstrous than it ever did during Game of Thrones and more akin to what George RR Martin envisioned when writing the books.

Unfortunately the trailer doesn't reveal much of what we can expect, aside from the possibility of those famous Targaryen dragons showing up and causing carnage — something that was lacking in Game of Thrones' later seasons.

House of the Dragon set photos

HBO released the first set photos from House of the Dragon, marking the start of production on the show. One of the pics, shared on Twitter (opens in new tab), provides a look at the cast members at a socially-distanced table read.

House of the Dragon cast table read

(Image credit: HBO)

HBO also tweeted out individual images of the House of Dragon cast members at the table read, which a fan on Instagram helpfully put together in a collage. It includes Considine, Smith, Cooke, Toussaint, D'Arcy and Ifans.

The first set photos of the cast filming scenes have emerged. Matt Smith and Emma D'Arcy were spotted filming on a beach in Cornwall, England. They're both sporting wigs to have the white-blond hair of Targaryens. Smith is Prince Daemon, while D'Arcy is Princess Rhaenyra. More on the characters below.

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HBO released official photos of the cast in costume as their characters. The pics reveal Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen and Emma D’Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen; Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon (aka the Sea Snake);  and Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower and Rhys Ifans as Otto Hightower.

House of the Dragon cast and characters

The House of Dragon cast is led by Paddy Considine, who will play King Viserys, according to Entertainment Weekly (opens in new tab). He's described as being "chosen by the lords of Westeros to succeed the Old King, Jaehaerys Targaryen, at the Great Council at Harrenhal. A warm, kind, and decent man, Viserys only wishes to carry forward his grandfather's legacy. But good men do not necessarily make for great kings."

The other major House of the Dragon cast members are:

- Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower, who is "the daughter of Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King, and the most comely woman in the Seven Kingdoms. She was raised in the Red Keep, close to the king and his innermost circle; she possesses both a courtly grace and a keen political acumen."

Cooke told Metro.UK that Alicent is "very different" from her recent role in the movie Pixie, whom she described as "really manipulative and conniving and selfish." Perhaps Alicent is one of the good eggs in this world.

- Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen, described as "younger brother to King Viserys and heir to the throne. A peerless warrior and a dragonrider, Daemon possesses the true blood of the dragon.  But it is said that whenever a Targaryen is born, the gods toss a coin in the air…" 

- Emma D’Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, "the king’s first-born child, she is of pure Valyrian blood, and she is a dragonrider.  Many would say that Rhaenyra was born with everything… but she was not born a man."

In February, four more cast members were announced: 

- Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon aka "The Sea Snake," who will be the lord of House Velaryon. Their bloodline is old as House Targaryen, and Velaryon earned his nickname for being the most notorious "nautical adventurer in the history of Westeros." 

- Eve Best as Princess Rhaenys Velaryon, a dragonrider who is wife to Lord Corlys Velaryon. She did not get the throne at the Great Council because — hold your surprise — "the realm favored her cousin, Viserys, simply for being male."

- Rhys Ifans as Otto Hightower. As Hand of the King, Hightower is protecting the throne loyally, and sees the king's brother Daemon (Matt Smith) as the biggest threat to the monach.

- Sonoya Mizuno as Mysaria. Mysaria had nothing when she arrived in Westeros. Now, after she's "sold more times than she can recall," she's actually got the trust and of Daemon, the heir to the throne.

- Fabien Frankel as Ser Criston Cole, a member of King Viserys I Targaryen's Kingsguard. On his blog (opens in new tab), George R.R. Martin wrote Ser Criston is "the common-born son of the steward to the Lord of Blackhaven. He has no claim to lands or titles, all he has is his honor and his skill with sword and lance. He is a challenger, a champion, cheered by the commons, beloved of the ladies. He is a lover (or is he?), a seducer (or is he?), a betrayer (or is he?), a breaker of hearts and a maker of kings … Welcome to Westeros, Fabien. And do keep that sword sharp."

And after being spotted in leaked set photos, actor Graham McTavish confirmed he's part of the cast of House of the Dragon.

I’m really having a lot of fun," he told U.K. fashion magazine Stylist. "We’ve just started. It’s a very big project, so we’re getting to know each other. They’re lovely people. It’s great, but I can’t tell you too much. I can’t tell you really anything about the story! But it involves a lot of dragons.” 

It does not, sadly, seem to involve McTavish's co-star from Outlander, Sam Heughan. In the same interview, Heughan joked, "Am I in [House of the Dragon]?" He also revealed he auditioned for Game of Thrones seven times, for roles including Renly Baratheon and Ser Loras Tyrell.

House of the Dragon plot

House of the Dragon is set several hundred years before the events of Game of Thrones. It's based on Martin's novel "Fire & Blood," which chronicles the rule of House Targaryen from the beginning. The story starts with Aegon I Targaryen's conquest of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.

House of the Dragon will focus on a particular part of the Targaryen history: The Dance of Dragons. It was a bloody and brutal Targaryen civil war that takes place 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones. (That's a little more than a century after Aegon I's conquest.)

Star Olivia Cooke has revealed that House of the Dragon won't have the gratuitous graphic violence against women that was commonplace on Thrones. She told The Telegraph (opens in new tab) that "I wouldn’t feel comfortable in being a part of anything that has just egregious graphic violence towards women for no reason whatsoever, just because they want it to be tantalizing in a way that gets viewers."

King Viserys I's death sets off a struggle for succession between his daughter from his first marriage, Princess Rhaenyra, and his son from his second marriage, Aegon II. Princess Shireen Baratheon recounted this story in a fifth-season episode of Game of Thrones. 

"Brothers fought brothers, dragons fought dragons," she reminded her father, Stannis. "By the time it was over, thousands were dead."

As Shireen noted, the conflict took its toll on the Targaryens, as almost all of their dragons died in the war. The beasts remained extinct for a century and a half, until Daenerys Targaryen hatched her three dragons in Game of Thrones.

House of the Dragon episodes

House of the Dragon will consist of 10 episodes. While we don't know the episode titles yet, HBO has revealed the directors. 

House of the Dragon season 1 directors include Clare Kilner (EastEnders), Geeta Patel (The Witcher) and Greg Yaitanes (House). They join Miguel Sapochnik, who was previously announced as the director of the pilot. 

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Henry T. Casey
Senior Editor

Henry is a senior editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.

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